Having a bioinformatician as our founder has inspired at Altmetric a culture of support for other scientists. We regularly share our data for free with researchers interested in discovering how knowledge diffusion works in the era of social media.
— Jason Priem (@jasonpriem) October 9, 2015
Indeed, we were delighted to see at 2:AM–and in many other conferences we’ve attended and papers we’ve read throughout 2015–that our data has been the basis of much groundbreaking research in altmetrics.
Below, I’ve compiled a few of our favorite Altmetric-supported studies from 2015, as well as other altmetrics-related research that we did not provide data for, but nonetheless recognize as being among the year’s best scientometrics scholarship.
“Identifying Twitter audiences: who is tweeting about scientific papers?” by Haustein & Costas
This award-winning study presented at ASIS&T 2015’s SIG/MET workshop aimed to classify Twitter users who share research, based upon their Twitter bios, followers, and how they engage with the research they share. The authors found that “organizational” accounts play more of a disseminative role in scholarly communication, while accounts run by individuals tend to exhibit higher engagement with research.
“Do ‘altmetrics’ correlate with citations? Extensive comparison of altmetric indicators with citations from a multidisciplinary perspective,” by Costas, Zahedi & Wouters
This analysis (OA version here) sought to confirm the extent to which various altmetrics (including news coverage, blogs, and social media) correlate with later citations. The authors posit that–due to a lack of correlation between most measures–that altmetrics measure something separate and distinct from what citations measure. Interestingly, this study also found higher coverage of altmetrics among publications in the social sciences, humanities and the medical and life sciences than in other disciplines.
“The Open Access Advantage Considering Citation, Article Usage and Social Media Attention” by Wang, Liu, Mao & Fang
This was the first major study to attempt to find a basis for the claim that the Open Access citation advantage extends to an advantage for social media metrics, as well. In it, the authors compared OA and non-OA articles from the same journal, Nature Communications, and did indeed confirm an overall OA advantage for citations, pageviews and downloads, and social media attention. Moreover, they found that “OA papers not only have the great advantage of total downloads, but also have the feature of keeping sustained and steady downloads for a long time.”
“Is There a Gender Gap in Social Media Metrics?” by Paul-Hus, Sugimoto, Haustein & Larivière
This study presented at ISSI 2015 found that the “gender gap” (wherein journal articles receive disparate amounts of attention based upon whether they have a male or female first author) for social media-based altmetrics–while it does unfortunately exist–is lesser than the gender gap for traditional citations.
“Adapting sentiment analysis for tweets linking to scientific papers,” by Friedrich, Bowman, Stock & Haustein
One of the biggest challenges for altmetrics as a field is in our current inability to classify if discussions about research are positive or negative. This study is an attempt at that, and found that “4.3% of the 1,000 random tweets to contain positive, 0.9% negative, and 94.8% neutral sentiment.”
“Challenges in altmetric data collection: are there differences among different altmetric providers/aggregators?” by Zahedi, Fenner & Costas
In this study, Zahedi and her collaborators compared Mendeley, Facebook, Twitter, and a handful of social media counts sourced from three types of providers, showing that altmetrics providers “count” mentions of research differently due to their various data collection practices and philosophies. In the lively discussion following Zahedi’s presentation at 2:AM, everyone agreed that the “problem” of inconsistent numbers can be addressed through clear, open documentation into how altmetrics are compiled.
“Ranking Journals Using Altmetrics,” by Loach & Evans
This study presented at ISSI 2015 compares traditional measures for journal ranking with altmetrics-based rankings along a number of axes. Loach & Evans found a number of correlations between the measures using data sourced from Altmetric.
“Geographic variation in social media metrics: An analysis of Latin American journal articles,” by Juan Pablo Alperin
This important study (OA version here) set out to show that altmetrics coverage can vary by geography, due to how such data is collected by aggregators like Altmetric and regional differences in the use of social media. This study also points to slower diffusion of research indexed in SciELO on some of the platforms used as an altmetrics data source, like Mendeley.
Other research that we’re proud to have supported this year includes “Influence of study type on Twitter activity for medical research papers,” by Andersen & Haustein and “Altmetric mentions and the communication of medical research,” by our Digital Science colleagues Adams & Loach.
Other notable altmetrics research published in 2015
A number of other studies were published in 2015 that we think move knowledge forward in the area of altmetrics.
- “Who Tweets about Science?”
- “Amplifying the Impact of Open Access: Wikipedia and the Diffusion of Science”
- “An automatic method for extracting citations from Google Books”
- “ResearchGate: Disseminating, communicating, and measuring Scholarship?”
- “User participation in an academic social networking service: A survey of open group users on Mendeley”
- “An automatic method for assessing the teaching impact of books from online academic syllabi”
- “Are Wikipedia Citations Important Evidence of the Impact of Scholarly Articles and Books?” (Note: we especially enjoyed reading this article, as we began tracking Wikipedia citations in 2015!)
- “Who reads research articles? An altmetrics analysis of Mendeley user categories”
- “Are scholarly articles disproportionately read in their own country? An analysis of Mendeley readers”
Want to do your own research on Altmetric’s data?
We’d love to hear from you–get in touch!
This post was updated on 18 Dec 2015 to include a description of the Alperin study.